When I heard the news that Burnaby Citizens’ Association Councillors Colleen Jordan, Paul McDonell and Dan Johnston were quitting the BCA because they were not doing enough on affordable housing, I nearly chocked on my coffee. According to them, it all came to a head over their colleague’s refusal for the city to subsidize rents on a new “non-market” rental development on Sussex Avenue.
The “affordable” rents will be $1,338 for a one-bedroom apartment, which we all know will not be affordable for many renters.
However, the councillors have known this since at least Dec. 13, 2017 when 64 rental units were at a demoviction public hearing. At the hearing, councillors were told by activists, residents and the Society to End Homelessness in Burnaby that subsidized rents in the new rental building will be unaffordable.
The new affordable units built would rent for over $1300/month, while the existing one-bedroom units rented for between $700-1,000. Councillors Jordan, McDonell and Johnston had no problem with that and voted the project through.
In fact, in the years between 2011 and 2018, they voted to destroy over 800 of the most affordable market rentals in the Lower Mainland and threw 2,500 low- and moderate-income renters out of their homes while wholeheartedly defending their housing strategy.
These same councillors also passed the Metrotown Downtown Plan in 2017 with substantial public opposition. The plan puts over 5,000 of Burnaby's rentals at risk of demoviction and resulted in developers and landlords literally making billions overnight.
Only a fool would take their excuse for quitting the BCA at face value. But this is not a defence of the BCA.
How can people in Burnaby trust a party that was complicit for two decades while former-Mayor Derek Corrigan waged a war on Burnaby renters and the homeless.
In my opinion, the party should quietly die so Burnaby can look past this shameful legacy of Corrigan and his backers.
Murray Martin, Burnaby